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  • Writer's pictureNara Loca

Post-Consumer Plastic Waste; How Is It Collected and Deposited?

What is post-consumer waste?

Post-consumer waste is a waste type produced by the end consumer of a material stream; that is, where the waste-producing use did not involve the production of another product.

Quite commonly, it is simply the waste that individuals routinely discard, either in a waste receptacle or a dump, or by littering, incinerating, pouring down the drain, or washing into the gutter.

Post-consumer waste is distinguished from pre-consumer waste, which is the reintroduction of manufacturing scrap (such as trimmings from paper production, defective aluminum cans, etc.) back into the manufacturing process. Pre-consumer waste is commonly used in manufacturing industries, and is often not considered recycling in the traditional sense.

Now that we have fully understand the term of post-consumer waste, let's take closer look into it.

Figure 1 : post-consumer PET bottle
Post-consumer PET bottle is one of the most common waste. It can be recycled into useful materials. The collection process is the first and one of the most important part in its recycling.  

Waste Management

Waste management (or waste disposal) include the activities and actions required to manage waste from its inception to its final disposal. This includes the collection, transport, treatment and disposal of waste, together with monitoring and regulation of the waste management process.

Waste collection methods vary widely among different countries and regions. Domestic waste collection services are often provided by local government authorities, or by private companies for industrial and commercial waste. Some areas, especially those in less developed countries, do not have formal waste-collection systems.

In some jurisdictions unsegregated waste is collected at the curb-side or from waste transfer stations and then sorted into recyclables and unusable waste. Such systems are capable of sorting large volumes of solid waste, salvaging recyclables, and turning the rest into bio-gas and soil conditioner. In San Francisco, the local government established its Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance in support of its goal of "Zero waste by 2020", requiring everyone in the city to keep recyclables and compostables out of the landfill. The three streams are collected with the curbside "Fantastic 3" bin system – blue for recyclables, green for compostables, and black for landfill-bound materials – provided to residents and businesses and serviced by San Francisco's sole refuse hauler, Recology. The City's "Pay-As-You-Throw" system charges customers by the volume of landfill-bound materials, which provides a financial incentive to separate recyclables and compostables from other discards. The City's Department of the Environment's Zero Waste Program has led the City to achieve 80% diversion, the highest diversion rate in North America. Other businesses such as Waste Industries use a variety of colors to distinguish between trash and recycling cans.

Figure 2 : Recycling Bins in Singapore

The problems of waste management are different for the developing world. Because the economies of developing countries are usually not as robust as the economies of advance countries such as USA, people in these poorer countries tend to buy fewer products with less packaging, and they produce less waste than Americans or residents of other industrialized nations. On the other hand, unlike developed nations, poorer countries in the developing world often have not developed adequate waste management policies or systems, trash collection services, or government institutions to properly manage their wastes.

Most developing countries don't have any organized means of controlling solid waste. Garbage is rarely even collected on a regular basis. Regulations vary from country to country and from town to town, and often a small bribe from an apprehended illegal trash dumper will trump enforcement of official regulations, anyway. Laws are often lax—burning of garbage and open dumping allowed. Frequently, a lack of funds prevents municipalities in such countries from ever being able to even create a proper waste management system, in the first place.

The result in many cases is that garbage in developing countries tends to pile up in waterways and on land, creating serious health and environmental hazards. This problem of waste management is especially acute in countries with rapidly growing urban areas. As World Health Organization researcher Hisashi Ogawa notes, "The management of solid waste is becoming a major public health and environmental concern in urban areas of many developing countries."

One of the worst examples is the city of Manila, capital of the Philippines. There, residents generate 8,000 tons (7,982 metric tons) of garbage each day, but for years the government did not collect the garbage or educate the public about recycling or other waste reduction options. As a result, the city's garbage simply piled up at numerous dumps, which attracted flies, rats, and other vermin. The dumps also encouraged poor people to scavenge amongst the trash to earn a meager living. Some people even lived on the dumps in shanties amid fetid garbage, methane fumes, and various toxins. In 2000 one of the biggest dumps— a huge trash mountain called Payatas—collapsed after typhoon rains, destroying one of the shantytowns and killing 219 people. After the tragedy, the government cleaned up the site, but a new dump was opened next door that continues to provide the only source of income for many poor residents.

Figure 3 : A Child Scavenger on Dump

Many developing countries have problems disposing of wastes. As a result, garbage piles up and people scavenge through the trash to try to earn a living. 

Waste scavenging at waste dumpsites occurs all over the world and particularly in Africa, Asia, Latin America and parts of Europe. Dumpsites around the world are the workplace of thousands of men, women and children who sort through the waste in search of valuable materials.

Economic Aspect of Waste Collection in Developing Countries

Unless segregated at source, waste is indiscriminately mixed, after which it is either dumped into the street (to be cleared by the street sweepers) or stored awaiting collection. Waste collection rates in developing countries vary anywhere between 40 and 90%. If existing, waste collection service is provided in a variety of ways. In some places, citizens leave plastic bags containing waste on the street for the kerb-side collection or put them into larger street containers. In others, waste is put in (individual household) containers, which are then emptied by the collection crew. Another option used in some primary collection schemes is that the collector rings a bell and a house member or a servant brings out the waste directly to the collection vehicle (often a tricycle). Scavengers sort through waste in street containers in search of the valuable materials. In doing so, they often leave the place untidy, which results in an (increased) aversion towards waste scavengers by the citizens. After temporary storage in containers and collection, waste is transported to the disposal site. Collection crew often sort through the refuse as well. If there is a transfer station in between, waste scavenging takes place there as well.

From the perspective of the waste management system, it can be stated that in developing countries the informal sector is effectively subsidising the formal sector, by significantly reducing the amount of waste that the formal service providers are managing. Furthermore, the activities informal sector contribute to preservation of natural resources by diverting waste from dumpsites back to material cycle. Therefore, there is an opportunity to build on the existing recycling networks and increase the current recycling rates in a cost-effective way through co-operation between formal and informal stakeholders. If treated as a valuable business partner, waste scavengers and informal sector as a whole can significantly increase their contribution to the protection of the (urban) environment and sustainable management of natural resources.

From the scavengers’ perspective, waste scavenging activities provide a valuable – and often the only – source of income for waste scavengers and their families.

At that, waste scavengers face numerous challenges. In developing countries, any activities of recovery of waste materials from the waste streams and their recycling into new materials and products are motivated purely by economic reasons, i.e. market demand for the recovered materials. Consequently, waste scavengers, and the informal sector in general, always work in accordance with market developments. For the same reason, they are also very vulnerable to the fluctuations. Further, if there is only one buyer at the site, waste scavengers receive very low prices for their materials, which results in them often being exploited.

Nara Loca Ways; Creating Opportunities From Plastic Waste

Waste scavenging activities are best addressed within an integrated sustainable waste management system, rather than in isolation from other components such as waste segregation at source, collection and disposal services. Waste scavengers are skilled workers and legitimate economic stakeholders in the materials recovery and recycling process. If treated as a valuable business partner, whose activities complement the modern concern for preservation of natural resources, waste scavengers and informal sector as a whole can significantly increase their contribution to the protection of the (urban) environment and sustainable management of natural resources. 

Nara Loca Abadi is a recycled plastic specialist that promotes the use of recycled plastic materials to many manufacturers around the world.

At Naraloca, we work with handful and respectable recycling plants, mostly located in developing countries in South East Asia. Waste scavenging activities holds one of the most important parts of the recycling process. Numerous supplies of post-consumer plastic waste is deposited to our partner's plants each day. It is the first step toward a better earth.

We believe that we can create a breakthrough for a greener earth by creating new life for plastic waste. Therefore, it won't become just a waste, but a valuable and usable materials.

#CreatingNewLife #Recycled #Polyester #RecycledPET #RecycledPolyester #Polyester

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